Monday, February 24, 2014

Breaking Dishes

My dad left home and dropped out of school when he was 15 years old. He lived with his vegetarian Buddhist grandmother who doted on and enabled him to do and go where he pleased. Pops led a kind of thug life under a strict personal code of ethics. Physical labor and hard work was what made a man, not academics. On the one hand he believed that intellect and athletic faculty were god-given, on the other that one could achieve anything through perseverance. He didn't need a formal education. He could teach and train himself to do anything. Or so he claims.

I am unconvinced. One night I heard my mother screaming and crying. I don't remember where I was in the house or what I was doing, but I remember being terrified, profusely sweaty and quiet as as a mouse. I wasn't in school yet, so I must have been four years old or younger. I heard the sound of dishes braking, and things being shoved around or turned over. She said she wanted to go to school. She told him he had no long term goals. She called him a coward, an idiot, something to that effect. I was terrified he would hit her. In the early years, my mother hounded him for refusing to set long term goals. If there's anything I've learned about myself it's that I've inherited just about all of my father's quirks, from his freckles and high cheek bones to his personal demons. He's impatient, a terrible listener and has to be the best at everything he does, even if it is delusional.

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